Few surf photographers can claim to have captured the sport while it was still a sub-culture and not the mainstream culture and industry it is today. Jeff Divine is one of the original masters of the surf photography craft.

Buttons Kaluhiokalani, Velzyland in 1974
Buttons Kaluhiokalani, Velzyland in 1974

Raised in La Jolla, California, Jeff Divine started documenting surfing in 1966. He was one of the leading surf photographers in the 1970s during one of surfing’s most exciting periods on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. It was here that he captured some of surfing’s most iconic photos of legends like Buttons Kaluhiokalani (pictured above) and Gerry Lopez (aka Mr. Pipeline), pictured below on the cover of Jeff’s latest book, Jeff Divine: 70s Surf Photographs.

Jeff Divine: 70s Surf Photographs book
Jeff Divine: 70s Surf Photographs

As well as taking photos, Jeff Divine also served as the Photo Editor of both Surfer and The Surfer’s Journal magazines for a total of 35 years. As well as countless magazine spreads, Jeff’s work is featured in books, galleries, and museums around the world, and in 2019, his 50-year career and undoubted impact on surf culture were celebrated when he was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame.

Jeff Divine’s photos don’t only capture the action out in the water, but also the wider surf culture. From localism at surf spots to the growing scene of surfers travelling the world to find waves to the parking lot at the beach. He beautifully captured the evolving culture of surfing in California, Hawaii, and around the world throughout the decades, including this photo below of the first female professional surfer:

The first female professional surfer, Margo Godfrey Oberg at Sunset Beach, Hawaii in 1977
Margo Godfrey Oberg at Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii in 1977
Shayne McIntire in Oman (sand dune walking)
Shayne McIntire in Oman
Indonesia
Indonesia
Locals Only
Locals only. “If you don’t live here, don’t surf here”

“His photos show the precommercialized era in surfing when the hippie influence still held sway. Surfers had their own slang-infused language and were deep into a world of Mother Ocean, wilderness and a culture that mainstream society spurned. Surfboards were handmade in family garages, often made for a specific kind of wave or speed, for paddling, ease of turning, and featured all kinds of psychedelic designs. Some were even hollowed out to smuggle hash from Morocco.”

From the book, Jeff Divine: 70s Surf Photographs
Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii
Pipeline
Pipeline, North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii in 1975
Pipeline, North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii in 1975
Gerry Lopez at Pipeline, Hawaii in 1971
Gerry Lopez at Pipeline, Hawaii in 1971
Gerry Lopez at Pipeline, Hawaii in 1971
Gerry Lopez at Pipeline, Hawaii in 1971
Herbie Fletcher, Gerry Lopez, and Barry Kanaiaupuni at Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii in 1971
Herbie Fletcher, Gerry Lopez, and Barry Kanaiaupuni at Sunset Beach, Hawaii in 1971
Gerry Lopez at Pipeline, Hawaii in 1971
Gerry Lopez at Pipeline, Hawaii in 1971

“I surfed first and then shot photos. As things got more serious, I shot first and surfed later. Getting the shot became almost as fulfilling as getting the wave.”

Jeff Divine
Buttons Kaluhiokalani surfing Backdoor on Oahu, Hawaii
Buttons Kaluhiokalani surfing Backdoor on Oahu, Hawaii
The scene on the beach at Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii in 1975
The scene on the beach at Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii in 1975
Allen Sarlo, Glen Kennedy, and John Thornton in Malibu, California in 1971
Allen Sarlo, Glen Kennedy, and John Thornton in Malibu, California in 1971
1970s surfers
1970s surfers
Shaun Tomson at Pipeline, Hawaii in 1977
Shaun Tomson at Pipeline, Hawaii in 1977

Jeff’s work is captured in these great books:

Prints are available at Archiv-e.

Photographer

Jeff Divine

Feature

Masters series

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